Baptiste on return to training

Alex Baptiste

Alex Baptiste

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THE Seasiders squad returned to training today, with Alex Baptiste confident they can bounce straight back after the disappointment of relegation.

Ian Holloway’s men were put through their paces at Squires Gate six weeks after losing their Premier League status, during which time they have lost almost a team’s worth of stars and brought in just one new signing so far, winger Bojan Djordjic.

Defender Baptiste knows it’s a crucial period. He said: “It was a massive summer for the club.

“It’s not just the players who have left – it’s the core we’ve built up over the past few years.

“People like Rob Edwards and Danny Coid will be missed, as well as the big names They were all part of what made us tick.

“But there are still big players at the club, people like Ian Evatt, Keith Southern and Gary Taylor-Fletcher will make sure that what we have carried on. The spirit will remain.

“The gaffer and Steve Thompson give everyone confidence and belief, so we’ll be fine.”

A knee injury meant Baptiste experienced a stop-start campaign and the defender is determined to get over the lingering disappointment. He added: “I’m still not over the relegation yet – I doubt any of the lads will be.

“But as soon as we get back in and start playing games again, we have a new start and a new season.

“Players come and go, and it will be good to see some fresh faces.

“Hopefully we can get back to where we want to be next season.

“It was good to get away, see the family and completely get away from football.

“But as soon as the fixtures come out and you have had a bit of time off, you are itching to get back.

“I was devastated at the end of the season – I was starting to play well just as it ended.

“Hopefully my knee is fully okay now and I just want to get a good pre-season under my belt.

The players return to a situation they have never faced before – Blackpool are among the bookies’ favourites for promotion. But Baptiste isn’t buying into any of that. “I don’t think the pressure is different to before,” he said.

“You are nervous at the start of every season.

“You never know until the first few games are out the way really.

“On our day we can beat anyone and we don’t fear anyone.

“The teams that have come up to the Championship are very strong, as are the teams who came down from the Premier League.

“It is going to be a very strong division.

“The Seasiders face eight more league games than they did in the top flight but Baptiste isn’t concerned in the slightest.

“I’ve played in lower leagues all my life, so I love the number of games. It doesn’t matter to me one bit.

“I love playing football and am looking forward to playing Saturday-Tuesday again.”